Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Spatiotemporal variation in the structure of reef fish and macroalgal assemblages in a north-east Atlantic kelp forest ecosystem: implications for the management of temperate rocky reefs

Pablo Pita A D , Diana Fernández-Márquez B and Juan Freire C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Santiago de Compostela, Avenida Burgo das Nacións s/n, E-15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

B Servizo de Competitividade e Innovación Tecnolóxica, Dirección Xeral de Desenvolvemento Pesqueiro, Xefatura Territorial da Coruña, Consellería do Mar, Rúa Juan Canalejo, 2, E-15006 A Coruña, Spain.

C Teamlabs, Duque de Alba 15, E-28012 Madrid, Spain.

D Corresponding author. Email: pablo.pita@usc.es

Marine and Freshwater Research 69(4) 525-541 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17193
Submitted: 27 June 2017  Accepted: 18 October 2017   Published: 16 January 2018

Abstract

Temperate rocky reefs and kelp forest ecosystems have been severely affected by overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction, and climate change is a major driver of kelp decline in many regions. Although necessary for management, ecological interactions between kelp and fish remain largely unknown in the north-east Atlantic. In the present study, underwater visual censuses (UVC) and univariate and multivariate multiple regression models were used to analyse the spatiotemporal variations in the abundance and habitat use of the rocky reef fish and macroalgae assemblages of Galicia (north-west Spain). The underwater seascape was dominated by large rocks and kelp forests of Laminaria hyperborea, L. ochroleuca and Saccorhiza polyschides. Fish assemblages were ruled by gadids, labrids and sparids. The most frequent fish species were Labrus bergylta (counted in 90% of UVC) and Pollachius pollachius (in 100% of UVC), whereas the most abundant were Boops boops (mean ± s.d., 556.4 ± 39.7 individuals ha–1) and L. bergylta (432.10 ± 440.05 individuals ha–1). Fish and macroalgal assemblages showed different spatial preferences and responded strongly to seasonality, wave exposure and depth. To a lesser degree, fish and macroalgal assemblages showed preferences for habitat structure. Moreover, because the findings of the present study indicate that L. bergylta is a good indicator species of the health of rocky reef and kelp forests ecosystems, monitoring of this fish can be helpful for management and conservation actions.

Additional keywords: algae, ecology, ecosystem processes.


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